She was supposed to use this vacation to decide what to do with her career – not which guy to date.
Jessica had been restless since she came home from her date with Andrew. She had tried to fall asleep, but finally gave up. She sat in her room now, various photo albums and her laptop spread on the bed.
Jeremy – knows me so well, she thought, looking at their pictures. There were so many pictures of them together – pictures that went back to when they were toddlers. They had always been friends, even when they went to separate high schools. I still feel close to him, she admitted, despite the five years we’ve been apart. Jeremy made her laugh and relax in ways only he could figure out. He could read my mood just by looking at me.
Their date – yes, it was a date – was easy. Jeremy came to pick her up as planned. He was dressed casually in a white tee, denim jeans and sneakers, but Jessica sensed something else. He had attitude. Jeremy was oozing with self-confidence. They walked to Rinconada Park which was ten minutes away. He had a backpack filled with blankets to sit on, carried the picnic basket with his right hand and had held Jessica’s hand with the other. Jess liked the feel of his huge hands cradling hers, so she did not object.
Conversation between them was never awkward, Jess thought. She enjoyed herself; the concert held by various Christian artists was good. It was their kind of music – yet another thing they had in common.
He was attentive and never took his eyes off her. When she felt cold, he wrapped his arms around her to keep her warm. She felt protected sitting there, her back against Jeremy’s broad chest and his muscular arms cradling her. When they walked home, they didn’t say much.
He kissed her goodnight – sweet and slow – under a starry sky. It was, Jess realized, romantic.
It wasn’t until later when she lay in bed that she thought about what they must have looked like to others. They must have looked like – a couple. That thought gave her a thrill – it also frightened her.
As for Andrew… there was just too much history between Jeremy and her, that it would be unfair to compare him to Jeremy.
Andrew took her to Tai Pan, a restaurant specializing in Hong Kong cuisine. “I thought you might miss the food,” he said while he drew a chair out for her to sit on. He was right, of course. Jess was missing Ma ma’s cooking.
While the picnic with Jeremy had been cozy and laid-back, her date with Andrew had LA smart and class written all over it, she decided. He was the suave and mature man.
During dinner they talked about Hong Kong, the economy and what he was doing home in Cali. Andrew was an intelligent young man. He wasn’t bad on the eyes, either.
When he drove her home, they ended up on the exact same spot Jeremy and she stood on last night. She had another guy and another kiss on her mind just as Andrew leaned in to kiss her. When he pressed his lips against hers, she did not feel a thing. She had been crazy about Andrew in Hong Kong – even fantasized about him kissing her. Not that he was a bad kisser, she judged. There was just something missing. This kiss did not give her tingles all over. It did not take her breath away.
Andrew wasn’t… Jeremy, she admitted.
Andrew and Jessica did look great together – two career-oriented and driven people who would complement each other. He was a brilliant man, who knew what he wanted and went after it. And tonight, he made clear that he wanted me, Jess thought.
“I want you in Hong Kong with me, Jessica,” Andrew had murmured.
“I’ll be back soon enough,” she replied, wondering if he sensed the uncertainty in her voice.
So Jess sat on her bed – totally conflicted about these two men.
She jumped at the sudden tap on her terrace door. Her curtains weren’t drawn yet, so she could see someone standing outside. The darkness hid the figure’s face, but there’s no mistaking the profile.
It’s just Jeremy, Jess sighed in relief.
She went to open the door and motioned for him to come in, but he stayed outside.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
“It’s late, Jer,” Jessica said.
“It won’t take long, promise. I have to leave early for LA tomorrow. My agent is in Cali,” he explained.
Jessica grabbed a cardigan and closed the terrace door behind her.
They stepped onto her parents’ garden. The pool reflected what little moonlight there was, at them.
“How long will you be in LA?” Jess asked.
“A couple of days. I have to drop by Nike, too, to sign a contract extension,” Jeremy shared. He rarely talked about that side of his career, so Jessica was surprised at the information.
“They’re a sponsor?”
“For gear and shoes, yes,” Jeremy said. “I wanted to tell you myself, so you won’t think I just took off.”
“I will never think that of you, Jer,” Jess said with a smile. “You’re always there for me – a great friend,” she added.
Jeremy had moved closer. “I want to be more than your friend.”
Jessica was speechless,”I…”
“Shh,” he said, grazing her cheek with his thumb. “Just please let me show you how much.”
Jeremy’s lush lips moved against hers. She could only react- her lips moving on their own against his. Jeremy pushed his tongue through, grazing Jess’. Nothing could have prepared Jess for the sensations coursing through her body at the contact. She did not even realize that Jeremy had his hands at her waist, pulling her against his body. She had snaked her hands up his torso, feeling the hard muscle, to link behind Jeremy’s neck.
Someone was moaning – Jeremy? Me?
It did not matter. What mattered was the emotion Jess could feel from Jeremy. “I love you, Jessica,” he whispered against her lips. Jessica tensed. What are we doing? she thought in panic. Part of her was excited and happy – the other part was freaking out.
Jeremy felt the tension on Jessica’s body as soon as he said it. Damn it, Jeremy. Slow and easy, remember? It was spur of the moment – but honest. He loves Jess.
He slowly broke the kiss off to gather breath and to give Jessica a chance to digest what he just said. She was warm and flushed. Jeremy still held her by the waist. When Jessica looked up, he could see Jeremy looking at her with such tenderness – like she was the center of his world at that moment.
“You can’t be in love with me,” she said.
“I am,” he said, trailing a thumb on her face.
“We’re friends, Jer,” she persisted.
“That does not mean we can’t be more,” Jeremy countered giving her a quick kiss.
Jessica was quiet. What was she supposed to say?
“I know it’s a shock, Jess. It was a surprise for me, too,” he continued. “Take the next days to think about us, okay?”
Jessica merely nodded. Jeremy followed her to her terrace door to say goodnight.
When he kissed her one more time, Jess had a hard time remembering what it was she was afraid of. Damn his lips, she thought, enjoying the kiss.
When she fell asleep, she dreamt of one man – of moonlight and kisses.